Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And The Back Story

Sorry guys. This is a bit of a long one.

Phew! I'm tired. What an autumn it has been. A little of it has been good, unfortunately, a lot of it not so good. I spent 5 hours in the Emergency Room two days ago, suffering from vomiting and severe nausea that just would not stop. It was awful. I'm very thankful to the nurses and doctors that helped me to feel better. I'm definitely better today, but still have some weakness and a lingering headache that I wish would go away.

I've also had a few other things going on that I've been struggling with, but I won't bore you with all of those details. I'm not going to sugar coat it though, it's been painful.

One big positive is that Jim's doctor believes he is in "deep-remission." That is huge and I'm so thankful. Because of that, the doctor suggested that Jim could stop taking his bi-monthly infusions if he chooses. But then, that means that there is nothing preventing Jim from getting another life threatening flare of Crohn's. Of course, I want him to stay on the meds, and Jim wants off. I'm terrified. Sigh.

Another good thing is that I got a part-time retail job (just for the holidays). It's my first paying job in over 16 years. I'm really thrilled about it, because it is a definite victory over the OCD. There were times when I thought I would never, ever be able to work again. Of course, the job brings up new obsessions and more things to be anxious about, but I'm trying to use my CBT/ERP skills, and overall, things are going very well.

But the big story in my life has been my baby, Fender. We first brought him home at the end of August. And 10 days later, we almost lost him. Yep, you read that right. I woke up on a Wednesday morning to find that he had a little blood in his stool, so I called the veterinarian and scheduled an appointment for later that day. While at the vet's office, she noticed that he had little bruises all over his body. She got concerned and decided to take some blood work. Imagine my shock when she came back to tell me that he had literally no platelets in his blood! Those little bruises? They were the result of internal bleeding caused by the fact that he had no ability to clot his blood. The vet told me that she had never seen a blood test result like that before. She then had me take him over to another animal hospital that had more sophisticated equipment. Thankfully, the medication they gave him kicked in and he was able to come home two days later with just the tiniest bit of platelets starting to form in his blood again. I'm very happy to say that all of his subsequent blood test results show a very normal and healthy puppy. However . . .

There are complications, of course. After taking every possible blood test known to man, the best conclusion that the 5 (count 'em, FIVE) vets that saw him can come to, is that he had an immune reaction to a vaccination that he received at 8 weeks of age. Which means: he can never receive another immunization again, or it might kill him. Which also means: he can never be kenneled or boarded, he can never have puppy playdates with another dog, just going to the vet for a checkup puts him at risk, and he will most likely die at a relatively young age from some (normally preventable) disease. I can never have him groomed, so we will have to do all of the grooming ourselves. I can't have friends watch him if we go out of town, if they own a dog. Let's face it, who will watch your dog but only someone else with a dog of their own? Yep. Definite life complications. Thank goodness for my parents. They have been literal life savers. This past weekend they watched Fender so that we could go to a wedding. More than that, they have just been overall super helpful during this most stressful period.

One of the biggest complications, though, was that I noticed in early September that, gulp, Fender had fleas! I thought I would die. Literally. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have an absolute terrifying fear of bug/rodent infestations. This was beyond my worst nightmare. I did some research on treating/eliminating fleas, and the news was not good. I could not put any flea treatment on Fender because he was still recovering from his near death, and he was also on immune suppressing medications (ironically, just like my husband). We did not know what his reaction would be to the flea meds, so my vet told me not to use them. She also told me not to flea bomb the house for the same reason. In fact, she told me that the only thing we could do was to vacuum our entire house, every day, for the life cycle of the flea which is, 90 days. Seriously?! It takes me 2 hours to vacuum the entire house. 90 days???!! I did it for the first 7 out of 9 days. We just could not keep up. Jim and I were both physically and emotionally exhausted. I was worried sick about Fender's health, but I was also worried about Jim's health too. Because of Jim's own ill health, being exposed to flea bites (and any subsequent diseases they might carry) is just out of the question. But I'm deathly afraid of pesticides too, so a flea bomb was out of the question as well. I was also mortified about the possibility that I might pass fleas on to someone else and then they would have the same problem. It was the perfect OCD storm, and it is why I truly thought I was having a relapse.

About a week and a half later, I was able to bring Fender to a holistic vet, and after speaking with her about it, she agreed to help me find a flea treatment that was not as strong as most on the market. I put the treatment on him, and thankfully, he did not have a reaction. Oh I felt so much guilt about using that treatment! I thought for sure that I was killing him. Then she told me that since it had been a few weeks since I first noticed the fleas, and that because I had not seen another flea since that first day, the odds were good that I caught them early, and that I should just really give the house a super good cleaning once a week. Ok. Now that I could live with.

December 5th will be 90 days. But I'm pretty sure at this point that we do not have fleas. I've literally not seen one since that very first day I noticed them. We washed Fender with Dawn dish soap and literally tore through the house like crazy to wash everything down right away, so it looks like we did indeed get them early. I also had tons of friends praying for me (thank you!) and I'm certain that the Lord carried me through this terrible, terrible time.

And so . . . we try to move forward. With all the uncertainty that life continues to throw our way. Honestly, the only thing I am certain of, is God's love for me. And for you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hello Everyone! I'd Like You To Meet . . .

Fender! Our 4 1/2 month old Maltese puppy! (We named him after Jim's favorite electric guitar - the Fender Stratocaster - tee hee. We like to call him our "rock 'n roll" puppy.)

Fender has been home with us since the last week of August, and I had planned on sharing this news with you a lot sooner - but oh is there a back story to all of this! And I will indeed tell you that story soon, but for now, we just wanted to say hello.

This is the day that we chose Fender. He was 8
weeks old. He would not come home for
another 2 weeks.

And . . . this is the day he came home!

His first car ride in his new car seat! (Yes, I am
that crazy dog lady with a car seat.)
He is 10 weeks in this picture.

I like to title this look "Sherlock Bones." All he needs is a little chapeau.

This picture is from approximately one month ago.

We already love him to pieces and he has become a treasured member of our family. Let's just say that he has VERY devoted "dog grandparents" ha! He can absolutely be a little rascal (think: the dog ate my homework) but he is also a sweet cuddle bug and we are very thankful for having him in our lives.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

OCD Awareness Week, Day 2

Today, my mom, Nicky, and I went to the Massachusetts State House for an OCD Awareness luncheon.

You know, if a person doesn't know what is wrong with them, it's awfully hard to get proper treatment. That's why awareness is so important. It was exciting to hear that the IOCDF is working with the Massachusetts State Legislature to increase awareness of OCD and access to treatment. And this is how the barriers to recovery get removed. One little piece at a time.

1) My Mom and I, 2) The MA State House,
3) Jeff Szymanski, PhD, Executive Director, IOCDF,
& 4) my new OCD MA awareness t-shirt

Monday, October 13, 2014

OCD Awareness Week, Day 1

Hey everyone! It's OCD Awareness Week and I'm going to post just a little tidbit every day this week in honor of this auspicious occasion. #OCDweek

Taken from today's The Telegraph:

"OCD is the poor cousin of mental health in that people tend to joke about it and trivialize the suffering of those living with it, says Ashley Fulwood, Chief Executive of OCD-UK. "But it is a serious illness and it can lead to tragic consequences."


Monday, October 6, 2014

Want To Get Better From OCD?

My bloggy friends have been on a roll lately! I read Jackie Lea Sommers' post today and it is full of truth. Hard truth. But truth that will set us free. So I just have to share.

Want to get better from OCD? I do (most of the time!). Jackie removes a few of the excuses that can keep us mired in the mud. Yes it will hurt. Like h-e-double-hockey-sticks, want to rip every last hair out of your head, why is this happening to me, kind of hurt. Nope, it's definitely not a get better quick overnight kind of thing. Does that even really exist - for anything? Sigh. Oh, how I truly wish it did. Is it easier and quicker to get better from OCD with the right, properly qualified professional at your side? You bet! And I will always encourage any sufferer to get proper professional help, because I do believe it is really the best way to go. But for most sufferers, I think it is possible to make at least some bit of progress on our own. And even small progress can make an impact on our daily functioning and contentment in life.

It's NOT fair that we have OCD. It's not. I hate it. With every fiber of my being. I hate the pain it causes me and I hate the pain it causes those who love me. I hate the pain that it causes you. But hating it and realizing that it's not fair will not do one. single. thing. to improve our condition. I encourage you to go through the "this isn't fair, why is this happening to me, and I'm in agony" phase. I truly do. I think it's necessary. Hey, I still go back there for a visit every now and then. Just don't live there. Please. It will only make things worse for you in the long run.

If you decide that for whatever reason you cannot get the help of a professional, and you choose to go it on your own, I will be your biggest cheerleader. No, I'm definitely not even a partial substitute for a real, live, properly trained therapist. But I'm always glad to offer virtual hugs, encouragement, and the understanding of someone who has been (and continues to be) there.

I mean, what do you have to lose by trying? Besides the mind-numbing pain of OCD, that is? Hugs to you, my friends.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A New Must Read

Since I started my own blog almost 3 years ago, I've been following another blogger, Janet Singer, of ocdtalk. It is one of my absolutely all time favorite blogs, for a few reasons. First, Janet doesn't even have OCD herself. She is an advocate on behalf of her son (who went through a terrible struggle with OCD, but post-treatment, is now doing well) and other OCD sufferers. Second, her blog is always chock-full of legitimately good, scientifically backed, helpful information. Third, she poses thoughtful questions about the subject matter when answers do not seem obvious and forthcoming. I met Janet in person at the International OCD Foundation's Annual Conference a few years back, and she is just as lovely in real life as I expected her to be based upon her writing. Therefore, when Janet announced that she was writing a book with Clinical Psychologist Seth J. Gillihan, Ph.D., I just knew it was going to be a must read for me. I suspect it will be a must read for anyone else looking to find helpful resources and inspiration when it comes to battling this terrifying mental illness.

So it is with great pleasure that I can say that it is now possible to place a pre-order on her book! The best part? Use code 4S15OCDBK to save 30%! I am placing my order today, and will anxiously anticipate its publication in January.

If you would like to help share this resource with your community, you can call your local librarian and request that he/she order the book. Many local libraries will gladly order requested books. I plan to do this myself.

Congratulations, Janet! I'm so proud of you, friend.

Update: You can also pre-order the book at Amazon. The discount code I previously mentioned will not work at Amazon, however.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pain Today, Healing Tomorrow

I just finished watching a video of the speech given by Ethan S. Smith, the Keynote Speaker of the International OCD Foundation's 2014 Annual Conference. It is 46 1/2 minutes long. And worth every single minute. Ethan shared the story of how he went literally from the depths of hell to living a productive, meaningful life. It is simply brilliant.
Ethan S. Smith
Photo courtesy of IOCDF

In some ways, the video is not easy to watch. Ethan's therapists were tough on him because they needed to be. But it's also great to watch, as he is funny and vulnerable, and really, quite wise. His major OCD theme is hypochondriasis.

I viewed the video because I thought it might be a good resource to share with others. What I did not realize was how much I personally needed to hear his words, especially in light of my own recent trials. If you are struggling terribly with OCD, or you love someone who is, this is absolutely worth 46 1/2 minutes of your life. (Also, check out his blog post that is underneath the video. Definitely worth a read.)

"The amount of pain that you invest today is worth the pleasure for the rest of your life." Ethan S. Smith